Q:Are you saying that you think the list of three philosophers at the end has nothing to do with the sutta?
A: Yes. That is my opinion at present. I have found a third sutta with this ending ( PTS. G.S. II page 34 A.N. II, 30 ). I do not think that it has any special significance.
Q. I am not sure if you're saying that the phrase you quoted first in this block can only belong to one type of philosopher and you attribute it to the materialist school so it therefore cannot belong to what nihilists believe? Or if you're saying something else here. Please clarify?
A: I think that the term nihilist is misleading I would prefer sceptic. I think a materialist can also be a sceptic about religious beliefs. In MN 60 the entire set of views "There is nothing given ..." ( as in MN 117 ) is called "nihilism".
Although this heading has been added by the translater I think it is correct. In this section a person who comes to the view " the next world does not exist" is called a natthikavada - sceptic. In fact, the other doctrines, denial of cause and denial of action are just specific kinds of scepticism.
Q.Are you then theorizing that in this sutta "Wrong View" represents the views of more than three different philosophies? I would welcome your best guess at such a list.
A. Perhaps better to think of it as a bunch of wrong doctrines rather than schools of philosophy. You can't neatly assign each doctrine to a single school, some doctrines were asserted by several schools. Also many of these doctrines could be arrived at by an ordinary person who would not be said to be following a particular school.
Q. "puthujjanas" being "just regular folk" those still suffering from ignorance of the Buddha's teachings?
A. The teachings contrast the "ordinary man" ( puthujjana ) with the "noble disciple" ( ariya savaka ). The first is said to be ignorant, the second is said to have wisdom. A lay person can be either, so can a monk. The ignorance is not about Buddhist teachings but about whether one can see and create the true path. Each person who becomes enlightened does so through a path "made by oneself".
Q. Are you saying with your "logical contradictions" that the Buddha offered us a teaching here in MN 117 that contained such logical contradictions? When you say "was worked out first, and then the opposite set of views naturally became wrong view" whom do you conceive of as doing the working out and coming up with an opposite that was illogical?
A. Just some speculations on my part. Probably muddled thinking. There may be no contradictions. I was struggling to find a way of understanding loka which makes sense. I am still working on it.
Best wishes, Vincent.